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  • Gary T. Burke

Two Books, One Topic

In June last year my first book on women in the church, God’s Woman Revisited: Women and the Church, was published by Luminare Press and made available on Amazon. The book seeks to engage serious Bible students in the study of the major biblical passages that deal with this issue, especially what women may or may not do in Christian assemblies. Even as I was writing it and shortly after its release some of my readers confessed that it was not a quick read. One elder told me he thought it was a bit dense and another that the chapter on I Timothy 2 was a “slog.” I didn’t take offense, because with over 500 footnotes, a 300-reference bibliography and eleven more detailed excurses on selected topics, I had to admit that not everyone was interested in that level of detail or documentation.


One friend in particular suggested that I write a condensed version of the book that would be easier to manage for the general reader or the one who had less time to spend on the subject. So in April this year I released God’s Woman Revisited: Pocket Edition. While the first book weighed in at more than 350 pages, the Pocket Edition contains only 156 pages—and no footnotes!


The Pocket Edition mirrors the original, chapter by chapter, adding discussion questions at the end of each chapter. Here the reader is provided with the gist of my arguments and much of the evidence for them without getting burdened by too much detail. It is designed especially to be used as a resource for adult Bible classes and small groups at church or for congregational leadership teams as they begin their joint study of the topic.


Neither my ongoing study of this matter since the publication of the first book nor feedback from those who have read it has caused me to question any of my conclusions. However, two new pieces of evidence have surfaced that buttress points made concerning issues in I Cor. 14:34-35. These can be found, therefore, only in the Pocket Edition.


The first has to do with whether the phrase “as in all the churches of the saints” (14:33b) concludes the thought in 14:33a or begins the thought in 14:34. In support of the former, the first book produced two pieces of evidence that the earliest known witness to the text points toward 14:33b going with 14:33a (p. 243). The Pocket Edition adds a third piece of evidence for this conclusion. “The fourth century Sinaiticus manuscript has a break between 14:33 and 14:34, not between 14:33a and 14:33b” (p. 121).


The second relates to the discussions of Paul’s use of the word “all” to refer to speakers in the Corinthian assemblies, thus indicating that both men and women were speaking (p. 259). The Pocket Edition presents additional verification that women spoke in those assemblies, namely, his use of the word “brethren” to refer to those speakers (pp. 126-27). It points out that this term, occurring 69 times in Paul, regularly addresses the whole church, both men and women and then notes “that in 14:26 and 39 he addresses his references to speaking roles in the assembly to ‘brethren,’ that is, ‘brothers and sisters.’”


On the latter of these two additions to the Pocket Edition, I am indebted to an insight shared by Jerry Jones after reading the first book. My study of this topic, as I hope is true of yours, is ongoing. You would do me a great service by also providing feedback, as Jerry did, to help me refine and improve my understanding of this important topic.

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